Security sector reform (SSR) is a cornerstone of the peacebuilding process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is a core element of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), established in 1999 to support the implementation of the Lusaka Peace Accord. Although it is generally recognised that SSR should be treated as a long-term process that ought to be addressed from the early stages of a peacekeeping mission, SSR in the DRC has advanced slowly. This is in part due to the prioritisation of elections, delays in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process, and an initial lack of strategic clarity on the part of both the national and international actors with regards to what an SSR process should entail.
MONUC’s objectives include assisting the government in the development of a national SSR policy, as well as encouraging the development of sub-sectoral reform plans for defence, police, justice and prisons. In its work to date, MONUC has undertaken joint operations with the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), provided training to the police, and developed a prison support programme. Other UN entities, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have also contributed to the SSR process, notably through support to DDR as well as through support to judicial reform in the case of the UNDP.
Despite the progress that has been achieved, there is an urgent need to complete the military integration process, professionalise the police and armed forces, and facilitate the handover of national security functions from the military to the police. Moreover, the justice system remains weak, and courts, parliament and oversight bodies lack capacity. A recent DCAF study on the experience of UN integrated missions in SSR highlighted three areas of particular relevance for the future development of SSR in the DRC. These include the need to strengthen support for the democratic oversight and accountability of the security sector; to enhance overall coordination among and between national and international actors; and to harness adequate capacity for supporting SSR programming in the DRC.
SSR efforts will be difficult to sustain if the government and international community are unable to deal with the fundamental problems linked to the dire socio-economic situation, high levels of corruption and impunity, and overall governance deficits. There is therefore a particular need for an increased focus on the governance dimension of SSR, and in particular, to strengthen support for democratic oversight and accountability of the security sector. SSR efforts in the DRC also appear to have been hindered by a lack of effective coordination, piecemeal approaches to SSR, as well as the overall disjointed decision-making process. Progress has been achieved, however, and on the 25th of February 2008, representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and the principal donor countries, as well as of the relevant government ministries gathered for round table talks on the SSR process in the country in order to move this agenda forward.
SSR in the DRC highlights some of the broader challenges that the international community faces in its support to SSR in post-conflict contexts. The need to identify sufficient expertise and capacity is a recurring theme, and in the case of the DRC, is central to enhancing the international community’s ability to engage in SSR. For the UN, work is underway to develop a common, comprehensive and coordinated UN approach to SSR. This will enhance the coherence and effectiveness of UN efforts to support SSR as a whole, and offers new opportunities to address the major challenges of SSR in the DRC.
Vincenza Scherrer, UN SSR Project Coordinator at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF).
The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) has recently completed a study on the experience of UN integrated missions in SSR in post-conflict contexts. The study was jointly initiated by DPKO and UNDP, with funding support from Canada, and is intended to support work towards establishing a common UN approach to SSR. The results of this study, including a chapter on the DRC, are available in a new edited volume.
See: Heiner Hänggi and Vincenza Scherrer (eds.) “Security Sector Reform and UN Integrated Missions: Experience from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Kosovo”, Lit Verlag, 2008. The edited volume will be available on the DCAF website.
Hot on the heels of the recent UK SSR sponsored workshops at the end of January 2008, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo held a two day Security Sector Reform Round Table in Kinshasa between 25 and 26 February. The conference focussed on reform of the DRC Security Sector including the Judiciary, the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) and the National Congolese Police (PNC). In attendance at the opening ceremony were the DRC Ministers for Justice, Defence and the Interior, as well as FARDC and PNC officials, MONUC and European Union representatives and foreign ambassadors.
The Minister for Justice and Human Rights, Mr Mutombo Bakafua, said that the talks “offer the opportunity to make an assessment of this sensitive sector, and to evaluate our needs in view of the reform that the population waits for.” He added that the “talks can offer resolutions that will allow the government of the Republic to take measures which will give a new image of our justice system, which establishes the facts and rights of all, without consideration for ethnicity, nationality, political leaning or social status.”
The Minister for Defence, Mr Chikez Diemu, said that the reform plan of the FARDC is based around short, medium and long term objectives. “The short term, 2008-2010, will see the setting in place of a Rapid Reaction Force; the medium term, 2008 -2015, with a Covering Force; and finally the long term, 2015- 2020, with a Principal Defence Force.” He added that the reform plan rests on a programme of synergy based on the four pillars of dissuasion, production, reconstruction and excellence. “The Rapid Reaction Force is expected to focus on dissuasion, through a Rapid Reaction Force of 12 battalions, capable of aiding MONUC to secure the east of the country and to realise constitutional missions,” Minister Diemu explained.
The Minister of the Interior, Mr Denis Kalume, said that the state of affairs prevailing in the police since the start of the transition period has been “characterised by disfunctionality.” He emphasised that “it is imperative to reform and to reorganise the police in order to reach a degree of professionalism worthy of a police in a republican and modern state. To achieve this, it was necessary to look to the future to have a common vision for the police, and then to elaborate a plan of action to achieve this vision,”
“The development of a law project on the composition, the organisation and the working of the police will take place, as well as medium and long term projects under this law project,” Minister Kalume added. He also noted that the principal expectations of his ministry from the talks were a general plan of action for police reform in the short, medium and long term, which includes the security of the local elections, in addition to a specific emergency plan to face the immediate security requirements, including the fight against armed crime and violent criminality in the main urban centres.
Following the speeches, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Francois Mobutu, representing Prime Minister Mr. Antoine Gizenga, officially opened the talks. After the opening ceremony four commissions were formed to discuss SSR, focussing on the police, military, judiciary and transversal issues. The government identified they would need in excess of US$132m in the next two years alone for the initial phase of the reorganisation of the FARDC. After many debates the delegates reassembled at the Grand Hotel where speeches were made by The South African Special Envoy to the Great Lakes, Mr Van De Geer, The EU envoy to the Great Lakes, Mr Alan Doss the UN Special Representative for the Secretary General and the Defence Minister, Mr Chikez who acted as the spokesman for the Government of the country.
At the conclusion of the talks the International Community were invited to give pledges of help to the Government of the DRC and it was agreed that further follow up meetings would be held to coordinate any pledges of support.
Local SSR Correspondent, Kinshasa, DRC
After years of political turmoil and instability, the DRC democratisation process, negotiated in the All-inclusive Peace Accords in 2003, designed a new political environment for a legitimate government and the consolidation of peace. Following this, the new constitution enacted on 18 February 2006 has now changed the country’s governance system and called for many democratic reforms. It set the framework for the Congolese democratisation process by transforming the power and responsibility relationship between institutions, people and communities.
The need for an effective and democratically governed security sector at this early stage of the Congolese democracy is evident, it being essential for rebuilding the state, the consolidation of peace, the aspiration of population for better security, and regional stability.
Since 2006, COR, Consulting and Communication (COR, C&C), an independent Congolese think-tank which focuses on Institutional Reforms, Democratic Governance and Civil Society Capacity Building, has assisted key stakeholders with strategic and technical issues in the SSR process. As a transparent think-tank for reliable analysis and information, COR, C&C’s dual objectives are to improve, qualitatively and quantitatively, civil society’s participation in the public policy decision-making processes, as well as to support other stakeholders in making informed policy decisions and developing sound and practical SSR programmes.
For decades, the general populace was excluded from participating in the design and decision-making processes of public policy. In particular, the security sector was considered of the sole responsibility of the State, reinforcing the general perception of security centred on State instead of on individual’s need. COR, C&C has worked to develop civil society’s strategic thinking and approach for both their informed participation and effective contribution in the SSR processes. A key result of this effort was demonstrated last month when a group of civil society organisations (CSOs), through a strong partnership with the most active and nationwide represented civil society network, Société Civile / Forces Vives, designed, for the first time ever in the DRC history, a strong SSR Strategic Plan.
This strategy enlarges the security concept to include human security, and addresses key issues for transformation of the security sector. Among them are the following objectives for a successful SSR process that encompasses, in this post-conflict environment, both the state of security and the security of the State:
As part of its work, COR, C&C runs a programme that aims to improve the previously powerless condition of local people to participate fully and effectively in the decision-making processes as well as to hold their government to account. Thus, civil society representatives (CSRs) are prepared to attend key SSR events such as the National Forum on Police Reform, and, more recently, the National Round Table on SSR in February 2008 (see Round Table article above). CSRs’ participation focused on sharing the holistic SSR approach that the government should promote, emphasising operational efficiency and a democratic governance of security sector services.
Over the last year, COR, C&C, with support from DFID and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA), has trained and strengthened CSOs on police reform capacities nationwide. As a result, through national consultation of CSOs, a strong and clear vision for the new police service has emerged. This vision is now being promoted to raise the awareness of both institutional and non-state organisations. COR, C&C has also helped developing practical joint activities (police-CSOs) that are now undergoing government approval.
COR, C&C improve SSR stakeholders’ networking by timely channelling SSR related information and documentation. This has led to more effective communication among stakeholders. Furthermore, COR, C&C conduct background research for SSR policies that provide rational analysis of key aspects of the security sector. COR, C&C is currently finalising a study ordered by parliamentarians of the Defence and Security Committee.
So far, a relatively fragmented approach to SSR by the government has weakened the process and distorted recent outcomes. The best response to the current approach lies in the effective participation of all stakeholders, thus widening the security reform spectrum. Therefore, COR, C&C’s activities will focus on expanding the SSR debate in order to allow the further development of a national and comprehensive security sector framework.
For further information, please contact:
Anaiah Bewa – Executive Director, COR, C&C
Lena Mukendi – Program Assistant, COR, C&C
Naupess Kibiswa – Executive Secretary, Société Civile / Forces Vives
The Document Library contains links to a number of SSR related documents either focussing specifically on DRC or looking at the country alongside others as case studies. A selection of these are listed below:
Below are listed a number of links to websites either containing information about DRC or to organisations operating in DRC: